Central Queenslanders get lazy when sorting recyclables
YOU'D EXPECT to find bike tyres, rubber thongs and boxes of old baby clothes in the usual household garage.
But where you don't expect to see them is in a bright yellow wheelie bin with the word recycling on it.
But located at the Rockhampton Landfill are piles and piles...and piles of rejected waste that has come from people's recycling bins in the last few months.
Rockhampton Councillor Neil Fisher said seeing the bales, each made up of contaminated recyclables from about 400 bins, was an indication of why the region's once reputable recycling standard had decreased.
"When recycling was first introduced to CQ we had the bags and we were at the very top as far as keeping our recyclables," Cr Fisher said.
"We had little to no contamination but now we've gotten the bins, we seem to have gotten a bit lazier and our contamination rate probably puts us as one of the worst areas in the country. It's really distressing to see each one of these bales had items that were put in a recycle bin which are now sitting in our landfill."
This section of the Rockhampton Landfill is where the contaminated bales are buried into the ground, then capped by a large about of soil.
The length of this section of the landfill is about 30 bales long, each row with two bales high and about 20 bales in length with 15 bales already being buried.
Cr Fisher said this section of the site consisted of contaminated recyclables collected since Cyclone Marcia.
"Landfills are very expensive to operate so the more material you can divert from a landfill the better it is for every rate payer," Cr Fisher said.
"People may not realise it but putting that bike tyre or close basket in the recycle bin, it's costing you and everybody else in the town extra because that material has gone from the recyclable section of the site back to the landfill where this space could have been used for more general waste.
"I don't think there's many people that genuinely go out and put incorrect waste in the recycling bin on purpose but I think councils need to lift up our education which is something we're looking at."
Manager of Rockhampton Waste and Recycling Craig Dunglison said the contamination levels have increased since the introduction of the wheelie bins.
"We're still putting out the tonnages at the same levels as before but the contamination levels have gone up so we just have go back and educate people about what items can be recycled and what items can't," he said.
"With this wheelie bin system we should be running to around 10 to 12% but we're running at 22% so it's well above what it should be and we want to work positively with the community to reduce that level. When we had the recycle bags we could have a look through it so if there were items in there that couldn't be recycled we would tell the owner and not take it with us but with the bins it just all goes in.
"There are cameras though that take photos of the bin and the house it came from so if there's contamination we send letters out and that person will get three warnings and throughout that we will educate them about recycling. Sometimes people just don't know or are rushed when they're putting out their rubbish so it's just about educating people and trying to encourage a bit more effort when recycling."
Junk mail, magazines, newspapers, milk cartons
Soft drink cans, beer cans, food tins, plastic containers.
Glass bottles and jars.
For an extensive list go to rockhamptonregion.qld.gov.au.